Clint Mathis joined Connor Lade, Steve Jolley and Brian White in a Past & Present Panel, presented by TCL.
Here’s a menu of notable moments throughout the panel:4:50 -- Mathis talked about how his youth national team and college career led him to an opportunity at the professional level 12:18 -- Mathis remembered his days with the Los Angeles Galaxy and working alongside Sigi Schmid 15:45 -- How the deal to New York came down 17:50 -- The story behind the I❤︎NY shirt 22:37 -- Working with Head Coach Octavio Zambrano 25:41 -- How he overcame an ACL injury to return to best form 29:20 -- Memories from the 2002 World Cup take over 32:30 -- Experiences after coming back from the World Cup and how that 2002 performance gave more notoriety to the sport in the country 39:56 -- Mathis shared details about failed move to Bayern Munich 52:40 -- On his return to our club in 2007 57:43 -- Mathis expressed his thoughts on social media and its impact on current players
Mathis played five seasons for the MetroStars/Red Bulls, scoring 45 goals and grabbing 26 assists across all competitions.
Tab Ramos, a former teammate, described him as “the best American player I’ve ever played with.”
“For me, Clint Mathis is the best American player I’ve ever played with," said Ramos. “I remember that he was such a complete player. He was fast, he was good with both feet, he was good on the dribble, he was a good passer, he had amazing skill, so I think Clint Mathis was a complete player.”
As the panel started, Mathis described how he fell in love with soccer, growing up in Georgia.
“I grew up in a small town in Georgia. Soccer wasn’t big, it’s always football, baseball down here in the south, and as you can see my career pretty much let out my personality of wanting to be different,” said Mathis. “Obviously, I went down the soccer path, which was different in that regard but was able to be seen at youth tournaments by the regional teams. Actually I made the national team before I even made the regional team.”
Mathis also gave an interesting insight on how college soccer was seen back in the 1990s and how it has evolved since then.
“I signed at University of South Carolina, at that time I graduated high school in 1994, there was no league at that point. The league started in 1996, so really a soccer career wasn’t even on the roadmap at all,” said Mathis. “I don’t think for any of us. Both of you guys are probably too young to remember this, but college was the highlight, that was our American dream to be able to go play Division I at a university, that’s where all the best soccer players were, and it was an unbelievable level. I know college soccer is still good, but the level has definitely changed there because of all the different opportunities, you know, the Homegrown Academy teams and things of that sort.”
When it came time to describe his mentality on and off the field, Mathis shared that it all came down to just having as much fun as possible.
“The main thing was to realize, yes it’s going to be hard work, but the one thing I tried to bring out, and Jolley can attest to this even when we left LA and went to New York, but the one thing that I wanted to bring out, yes it’s a job, yes it’s a business, it’s turned into a way more lucrative business now, but at the end of the day, you’re just playing a sport,” he said. “So I wanted to have as much fun as possible, and when I was having fun, that’s when I was playing my best. I got criticized a lot for maybe not taking it as serious. I cared more about this, than about anything. I just really didn’t show it as much because I was that kind of person that could handle pressure, could handle criticism, not really letting get to me too much, and if I could take that pressure off other teammates, or things of that sort, and make me the fall guy, I was okay with that.”
Make sure to watch the entirety of this Virtual Player Appearance and enjoy all the stories Mathis shared with Jolley, Lade and White.